red lights


Sullen beauty

Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton -
Knives Don't Have Your Back

(Last Gang Records)
3 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Sept. 28, 2006
Emily Haines

Review by Tony Bonyata

Emily Haines is not only the lead singer of the Toronto-based rock band Metric, but she's also part of the Canadian indie-rock collective Broken Social Scene and has made contributions to the Montreal indie bands The Stills and Stars. Now the daughter of Canadian poet Paul Haines has just released her own full-length Knives Don't Have Your Back, an album filled with ethereal, lush and beautiful numbers.

This isn't the singer's first solo effort, however. Ten years ago the musician self-released her debut, Cut In Half And Also Double (an album that, because of it's original limited release, currently fetches hundreds of dollars on eBay). And with all of her current work with so many important Canadian indie-rock bands today, the September 26th release of her second proper solo album has been highly anticipated by many of her fans.

Despite stepping into the spotlight on her own for this venture, the music on this eleven-track collection finds Haines sullenly moving towards the shadows with reflective, melancholy numbers such as the piano-kissed, dark balladry of "The Maid Needs A Maid," "Crowd Surf Off A Cliff" and  "The Last Page." While graced with an absolutely beautiful voice, Haines' delivery over many of these stark, harrowing numbers gloomily floats and glides above the simple, yet emotionally charged arrangements, steeped in sadness and despair.

"All our songs will be lullabies in no time," Haines coos just barely above an aching whisper on the closing track "Winning." But while many of these gentle songs may comfortably lull listeners to slumber, with sorrowful melodies and dark, brooding undertones, there's no guarantee that nightmares won't also follow.

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